For the third year since 2016, twelve of the world’s most beautiful yachts sailed to Newport, RI for the 2019 Candy Store Cup superyacht regatta July 26 and 27. Light winds, sunny skies, and perfect temperatures gave sailors and organizers the ideal backdrop for two days of yacht racing and parties at the famed Newport Shipyard, a superyacht marina and working shipyard on Newport’s waterfront, and at the Clarke Cooke House, renowned for its innovative cuisine and known as a legendary watering hole for sailors and royalty alike, on beautiful Bannister’s Wharf. Newport Shipyard and Bannister’s Wharf co-own the regatta, which carries forward the tradition of the original Nantucket Bucket and more recently the Newport Bucket, which was last held in Newport in 2015.
The regatta kicked off on Thursday afternoon with a captain’s meeting where Principal Race Officer (PRO) Peter Craig of Premiere Racing briefed the captains and crew on what to expect weather-wise and course-wise for the regatta. “Both days were forecasted for light-to-medium wind and they were spot-on,” said Craig who is also the PRO for the St Barth’s Bucket held annually in March, among other high-profile superyacht regattas. After the briefing, yacht owners and guests were invited to an evening reception, sponsored by AIG Private Client Group, on the top floor of the Clarke Cooke House where they were greeted with glasses of chilled champagne and offered fresh sushi, a raw bar, and elegantly passed hors d’oeuvres.
“AIG Private Client Group, a division of the member companies of American International Group, Inc., was proud to be a sponsor and presenting partner of the 2019 Candy Store Cup hosted by Bannister’s Wharf and Newport Shipyard,” said Sean Blue, Global Head of Watercraft for AIG. “We endeavor to protect our clients’ passions, and the shared passion for sailing and this community was palpable. We saw it on every yacht, and on the faces of yacht owners, crewmembers, staff members, and guests alike. We were honored to be a part of it.”
With a 1300 scheduled start time on race day one, there was enough breeze to get started on time, enabling the smaller, lighter yachts in Class C to sail their full 20NM course in approximately 3-1/2 hours. The race committee shortened the course to 16NM for the larger yachts in Classes A and B and late in the afternoon the largest yacht in the fleet, the 184’ Perini-Navi ZENJI, was heeled over reaching at 11kts in a building sea breeze. “It was an awesome sight,” said Craig who has been the PRO of the Candy Store Cup and its predecessor, the Newport Bucket, since 2011. ZENJI took advantage of the late, building breeze to win Class B. Raven Claw, a 24m Oyster sloop, won Class A, and Delta House, a 30m Hodgdon Yachts-built sloop won Class C.
Race day two was a bit lighter so Craig held the fleet for a 30-minute delay and got underway at 1330. The forecast was once again quite accurate and the yachts all sailed a 15NM course and finishing between 1600-1700 off Castle Hill lighthouse. “Of course the sailors and race committee would have loved a bit more wind, but two fair races in consistent, light breeze was a win for everyone,” said Craig. Winning race day 2 handily in Class A was the Martin Marine-built 20m sloop Sirona, while the 33m Danish Yachts-built sloop Nakupenda was a mere 1 minute 37 seconds clear of Zenji in Class B. The Class C winner on Saturday was the well sailed Concordia custom-built sloop Savannah. The racing was competitive in all 3 classes over the weekend as evidenced by the corrected time tie between Raven Claw and Prevail in race 2.
“Savannah’s return to Newport exceeded our expectations on every level and our welcome at Newport Shipyard and being able to sail in the Candy Store Cup was handled with total professionalism and efficiency,” said Hugh Morrison, owner of Savannah. “It was a privilege to have so many members of the original design and build team with us for the regatta and for a scratch crew of up to 31 people onboard, she acquitted herself very well – a real testament to the quality of design and the craftsmanship that is a world-renowned feature of Newport’s yachting heritage. I’d like to thank everyone who made us feel so welcome and hope that it isn’t another 20 years before Savannah sails these waters again,” Morrison concluded.
The regatta ended on Saturday evening with a prize giving on Newport Shipyard’s checkerboard patio and the “American-style” theme offered 300+ sailors, sponsors and regatta volunteers hamburgers and fried chicken catered by local restaurants Winner Winner and Mission. The Ravers, a favorite local reggae band, played all evening and many danced their way from Newport Shipyard back to the Clarke Cooke House’s subterranean night club, The Boom Boom Room. “We had an absolute ball all weekend,” said Clive Youlten, captain of Nakupenda. “The yacht’s owner, his guests, and all of the crew onboard felt the regatta organizers did a great job keeping it fun and low-key. We were also very pleased to win our class on Day 2 and the overall series for Class B. A little extra ‘silver’ onboard never hurts!”
“This year’s Candy Store Cup was another home run,” said Charlie Dana, Newport Shipyard’s managing partner. “Sailing runs in our blood here at the Shipyard and seeing these impressive yachts line up off Castle Hill was a terrific sight. The vibe throughout the regatta was casual and lighthearted which is what we aim to bring to the forefront. Naturally, we want the sailing to be fair and safe, but we hope above all else, owners and sailors come to the event to sail in our beautiful hometown and spend a few days enjoying their yachts with their guests and families onboard.”
Geoffrey Pierini, owner of Sirona, overall winner of the 2019 Candy Store Cup on a tie-breaker, couldn’t agree more. “It was great for me personally to get long time shipmates and family together to race in the Candy Store Cup,” said Pierini, who also won the overall series for Class A. “Our team was made up of a group of really good amateur sailors including the Rebovich brothers and my navigator Chris Stone, all of whom are experienced Newport to Bermuda Race sailors. Craig Copeland, who races regularly with me on my J/70, and respective family members including my wife Katie, our 5-week old daughter Madeline Maxx, and Craig’s 10-year-old daughter, who played the part of babysitter all weekend, made the event possible for all of us! The entire Sirona team would like to thank the organizers of the Candy Store Cup. It was an honor for us to be included in this event.” Pierini also raced Sirona in the 2016 Candy Store Cup.
“The Candy Store Cup continues to be a special event for the Bannister’s Wharf and Newport Shipyard families,” said David Ray, owner of Bannister’s Wharf and the Clarke Cooke House. “The original Candy Store Cup started in 1977 and was always held on the first lay day of the America’s Cup in IOR boats. The course was three times around the harbor with spinnakers and it was a terrific tradition for many years. Our superyacht edition of the Candy Store Cup is the only event in the US that brings yachts of this size together to race which makes it very special and fun for all of us involved. We look forward to hopefully having many of these yachts back again next summer and it would be great to add a few more to the entry list,” Ray said.